This UFC welterweight title fight was expected to feature as part of the promotion’s annual International Fight Week festivities in Las Vegas, but the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out IFW 2020, negotiations for Masvidal to get the next title shot fell apart, and we instead saw Usman vs. Gilbert Burns booked for UFC 251 in Abu Dhabi.
Over the past few days, everything has been flip-turned upside down. Burns tested positive for COVID-19, and now Masvidal is prepped to take on the champ on short notice.
Pending COVID-19 test results for both competitors, Usman vs. Masvidal will be the new main event on July 11th. Perhaps any concerns over pay are no longer there for “Gamebred,” whether through the UFC giving him what he desired or just dropping the issue entirely himself.
Masvidal (35-13) had a tremendous 2019 with a trio of terrific triumphs — a knockout of Darren Till, a record-setting iconic knockout of Ben Askren, and the “BMF” title win over Nate Diaz at UFC 244. That run of form plus his rise in popularity figured to put him in prime position for his first ever title shot, but then the aforementioned contract dispute led to Burns’ title opportunity.
As for Usman (16-1), this will be his second defense of his title. Last year he won the belt from Tyron Woodley and followed that up with a dramatic fifth-round TKO of Colby Covington at UFC 245. He is undefeated in the UFC and has seldom been in any serious trouble throughout his time inside the Octagon.
Maybe this will be billed as a UFC title-BMF title unification.
If we get two negative COVID-19 tests then they head to Yas Island and the fight will be made official. If not, then there’s no fight.